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The secret to living longer according to those who have lived beyond 100 years of age

Your 1+1 Team
August 10, 2021

Misao Okawa was the oldest living person in the world before she passed on at age 117 in 2015. What was her secret to living over a century? According to Okawa, “eating delicious things is a key to my longevity.” To state the obvious, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is crucial to living a long life. However, some suggested ways may appear unconventional to becoming centenarian. Okawa cited eating sushi and having a good night’s sleep as her reasons for living longer, while many others who lived over 100 had different pieces of advice for reaching their age.

1. Eat a balanced diet, but not too healthy

According to Eating Well, incorporating more plants into your diet can help increase your lifespan. JAMA Internal Medicine found those who ate vegetarian had 12% lower odds of early death. Plant-based eating styles are high in fiber and low in saturated fat so they can reduce chances of heart disease and diabetes. Foods rich in protein are also good to maintain in your diet. For example, Emma Morano, who lived up to 117-years-old, credited her long life to eating two raw eggs a day.

While it is necessary to have a balanced, nutritional diet to live a long life, that does not necessarily mean cutting foods you enjoy. As Okawa said, the key to her long life was eating food she loved. This also applies to other centenarians and their not necessarily healthy habits. Mentioned in People Magazine, French-born Jeanne Calment lived to be 122 until 1997, and she reportedly ate more than 2 lbs. of chocolate a week. However, she did maintain healthy habits such as biking until she was 100. Your elderly family member’s life span depends on their genes and lifestyle choices, so regardless, keeping a balanced, proportional diet can help them get the nutrition they need to live a healthy, long life.

2. Keep your brain working

Eating Well states staying productive and working your brain will keep your cognitive abilities for the long run. For example, 100-year-old Paul Hitch from Savannah, Georgia exercises his brain by working with stocks every day. He states he is the oldest person in his community and still lives independently. Your loved one does not have to keep their brain active solely through something as complex as the stock market. Even just gaining a hobby such as crossword puzzles and reading can keep their brain active and their body running.

3. Be active

Just like how keeping your brain active keeps your cognitive assets running, exercising allows your other bodily functions to stay strong for the long term. Staying active doesn’t necessarily mean your loved one has to do high interval workouts and obstacle courses to live longer. Blue Zones analyzed five places in the world that boasted to have the most centenarians. They found that commonality with the centenarians in these five places is that they “move naturally.” This means fitting exercise naturally into your elderly family member’s day-to-day life instead of going to the gym. According to Insider, this worked for 111-year-old Duranord Veillard who credited his age to do five to seven push-ups every day.

Eating well has also said that incorporating yoga as exercise causes your body to turn back the clock. A 2017 study done by India looked at 96 healthy people who participated in yoga and found that certain biomarkers showed the program helped reverse cellular aging. This could be due to the practice diminishing your body’s stress response which causes wide inflammation that leads to chronic diseases. Yoga is a great example of an exercise that can help your loved one stay active and live a long, healthy life.

4. To live longer keep a positive outlook

Ever heard the saying “happy people live longer”? Well, this is true according to Harvard Health. Harvard states plenty of research shows optimistic people have a reduced risk of early death from cancer and infection, as well as, have a lower chance of having heart disease, stroke, and declines in lung capacity and function. 108-year-old Arlena Labon agrees that having a positive outlook on life helps longevity. According to People, Labon said the secret to living a long life is to “love one another” and “treat one another good.”

5. Have a baby later

There has been a past stigma that your late 30’s is too old of an age to have a baby, however, according to 2015 research in Menopause, having a baby later can increase your longevity. The research states women who have their last baby past the age of 33 were twice as likely to survive into the top fifth percentile of people compared to those who finished their families by age 29.

6. Have a drink or two… or three

This may confuse some people, but you read that correctly, consuming alcohol in a social setting has been said to boost longevity. Blue Zones research states most communities where people enjoy long, healthy lives drink alcohol “moderately and regularly.” Eating Well further states that wine in particular has antioxidants that strengthen your heart and is beneficial when incorporated into a healthy diet. Many centenarians cite their long lives to alcohol consumption. For example, Dorthey Howe, who turned 100 in 2013 and drank a whiskey now and then, said “I only drink when I’m out but my doctor said I wouldn’t be alive without them,” according to People.

While genes play a role in life expectancy, so do your life choices and habits. Maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle only has benefits towards your longevity. So, make sure your loved one exercises their mind and body, eats their sushi, and hits up the bars.

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